bison roaming

Bison’s Historical Return To Kankakee Sands Preserve

The Nature Conservancy’s Mission 

Conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends

Every acre we protect, every river mile restored, every species brought back from the brink, begins with you. Your support will help make a lasting difference around the world in 69 countries.

Where The Bison Roam

It is believed around 30 million bison roamed between the Appalachian Mountains on the east and the Rockies on the west during the time of Columbus. Unfortunately, railway construction to support the expansion out west and over-hunting brought the bison to near extinction leaving only 554 by 1888. Changes to the game laws and other protective measures allowed the surviving bison to prosper and regain their numbers. The herd at Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota is unique, unlike other bison herds, this one was not bred with cattle, these bisons are the most genetically pure and diverse specimens.

The map, from The Nature Conservancy below, shows the bison’s historical range, as well as some of the places they can be found today. Their numbers are now around 350,000 and the bison can be found in all 50 states.

The Return to Kankakee Sands Preserve

Small bison herds once roamed the prairies of Indiana back in the 183os. The Nature Conservancy in partnership with have been working to restore the prairie fields and are now completing the system with the release of 23 bison in the Kankakee Sands Preserve. The bison will continue to heal the land, promote the growth of the prairie plants, and create biodiverse environments to support amphibians and other animals. There is an established viewing area with a small gravel parking lots with access to a few short trails. The bison herd is not free-range; the only herd to roam free is in Yellowstone, the bison are on two large fenced pastures about 1,000 acres altogether. It is located about 2 hours from South Bend.

Learn More

The Nature Conservancy has ongoing efforts to preserve the American bison.

Learn more about their initiatives and support the cause.

Bison's Range Map

We Are The Parks

We all have the responsibility to help protect and preserve this important legacy. Here are five things you can do to minimize your impact and help protect the parks for future generations:  
  • Follow the Rules.  A new story about bad behavior in our national parks comes out almost every day. With people regularly doing things like walking on geothermal features, getting far too close to wildlife, illegally using drones, and vandalizing priceless natural and cultural treasures, NPS resources are stretched. We can all help the NPS and protect valuable natural resources by following established rules.
  • Practice Leave No Trace principles. With visitation to NPS sites at an all-time high, it is even more important for all of us to be good stewards of the places we visit. An easy way to reduce your personal impact in learning about and practicing Leave No Trace principles.
  • Petition & Vote.  In addition to supporting petitions and sending letters to your congresspeople. Consider the preservation, protection, and adequate funding of public lands when voting for local, state and federal officials consider. If these things are a priority for you as well, check in with your local and national conservation organizations to see how politicians in your community view the protection of public lands before you cast your votes.
  • Get Involved.  There are many ways to volunteer including artists-in-residence and citizen science programs.
  • Support.  Consider making a donation to the National Park Foundation. The NPF is the official charitable partner to the National Park System.
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